Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the implementation of the US Bishops' Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The Charter contains practical and pastoral steps that address allegations of sexual abuse, prevent future abuse, and help abuse victims through the healing process.
While we must never relax our efforts to keep our children and young people safe from all harm, it is appropriate on this anniversary of the Charter to reflect upon all of the good work that has been accomplished by so many in our Archdiocese of Los Angeles to help ensure our children's safety.
Over the past decade, more than 100,000 adults and children have undergone abuse awareness and prevention sessions in our parishes and schools. More than 5,000 VIRTUS® sessions have been conducted, making access to this important training easily available.
The Archdiocese continues to be one of the largest private organizations in California to fingerprint employees and volunteers who work with our children. More than 100,000 adults have gone through this important screening procedure.
This brochure provides resources to help prevent child sexual abuse and information on what to do if you suspect or witness abuse or misconduct. It is updated and distributed annually by the Archdiocese. Please read and keep it for reference.
I remain grateful to all those who have labored so diligently to help ensure the safety of our children and young people. Let's continue this important work together.
Sincerely Yours in Christ:
Most Reverend José H.
Gomez Archbishop of Los Angeles
Sexual Abuse of Minors - A Pervasive Social Problem
Child abuse is a frightening social reality. Numerous studies, while not in full agreement, estimate that some 40% of girls and 30% of boys suffer some form of molestation by an adult during their childhood and adolescence, with the majority of child sexual abuse occurring within the setting of an extended family. We as the "People of God" are called to work together to stop all forms of sexual abuse, wherever they occur.
Church Teaching on the Sexual Abuse of Minors
Church teaching condemns the sexual abuse of children and youth as seriously sinful. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "Connected to incest is any sexual abuse perpetrated by adults on children or adolescents entrusted to their care. The offense is compounded by the scandalous harm done to the physical and moral integrity of the young, who will remain scarred by it all their lives, and the violation of responsibility for their upbringing." (2389)
Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was adopted by the Bishops of the United States in June 2002. This important document contains the Essential Norms which are the Church's response to child sexual abuse and the concrete plan to work actively in the prevention of sexual abuse. Key components of the implementation of the Charter include:
1) Office of Victims Assistance Ministry Helps Abused Victims Find Healing (Charter Articles: 1, 2, 4,12,16)
The Office of Victims Assistance Ministry of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles was created in April of 2002 to deal with allegations of past or current sexual abuse by clergy, religious or any lay person working or volunteering for the Archdiocese. The Office is charged with creating a safe and compassionate environmentfor victims to come forward while ensuring that civil authorities are notified and victims are provided with counseling and other assistance in the healing process.
Call Victims Assistance Office (800) 355-2545 to:
2) Office of Safeguard the Children and the Formation of Safeguard the Children Parish Committees (Charter Article: 2)
The establishment of the Office of Safeguard the Children and the formation of Safeguard the Children Parish Committees were mandated by Cardinal Roger Mahony in 2002. The Office of Safeguard the Children assists these permanent Parish Committees in implementing child sexual abuse prevention education, Safe Environment policies, procedures and resources. www.la-archdiocese.org/org/protecting/safeguard
3) Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Education for Adults (Charter Article: 12)
VIRTUS® "Protecting God's Children" is a three- hour training for adults which teaches the five basic steps of child sexual abuse prevention. This program is mandated for all adults who work with or around children or youth on a regular basis. Nearly 70,000 clergy, staff, volunteers and parents have attended the program. For information call: (213) 637-7227. http://virtusonline.org/virtus
4) Children and Youth Sexual Abuse Prevention Programs (Charter Article: 12)
Child sexual abuse prevention includes empowering children by teaching them body safety rules and steps they can take to ensure their own safety. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles currently offers the following age-appropriate prevention programs for children:
VIRTUS® Teaching Touching Safety
Archdiocese of Los Angeles Self-Protection, Program Grades 1-12, Parishes/schools can select from the programs listed above. All these programs encourage parent involvement in reinforcing what their children learn by providing parent information and materials so that parents may fulfill their role as the "primary educators" of their children. For information call: (213) 637-7460. www.la-archdiocese.org/org/protecting/safeguard/Pages/education.aspx
5) Background Checks and Screening (Charter Article: 13)
All clergy, paid parish/school personnel and volunteers who work regularly in a supervisory role with children or youth must be fingerprinted. For information call: (213) 637-7411. www.la-archdiocese.org/org/hr/Pages/ fingerprinting.aspx
6) Archdiocese of Los Angeles Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Policies (Charter Article: 6)
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has implemented rigorous polices and procedures to provide a safe environment in our parishes and parish schools for all children and young people. These include:
To view these and other policies: www.la-archdiocese.org/org/protecting
7) Reporting Child Abuse
Priests, deacons, school faculty and administrators and other staff members in our parishes and schools have been designated as mandated reporters under California law. When one of these persons receives information leading to a "reasonable suspicion" that a child is being abused or neglected, he or she must make a report to the appropriate child protection or law enforcement agency. For Information on Re- sponding to an Allegation of Suspected Child Abuse:www.la-archdiocese.org/org/protecting/vam
If you are being abused, have been abused, or know someone who is being abused, you can call Victims Assistance Ministry at: (800) 355-2545 for assistance to make a report or seek help directly by contacting one of the Child Protective Services or one of the Law Enforcement Agencies listed below. In an emer- gency call 911.
Los Angeles County:
LA County Child Abuse Hotline: (800) 540-4000
Investigative Control Unit for All Child Abuse Reports: (213) 486-0530
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department:
Special Victims Bureau (24 hours) (562) 946-8531
To speak to a detective (213) 974-9790
District Attorney's Office:
Sexual Crimes pision: (562) 946-7960
Family Violence pision: (213) 974-3785
For callers residing outside the State of California who wish to contact Child Protective Services in Los Angeles: (213) 639-4500
Santa Barbara County:
Santa Barbara County Child Abuse Hotline: (800) 367-0166
District Attorney Victim-Witness Assistance: (805) 568-2400
Ventura County Child Abuse Hotline: (805) 654-3200
District Attorney Victim's Services: (805) 654-3622